A recent report released by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard reports a sharp uptick in nationwide boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities in 2020 as compared to 2019. The rise in these statistics is attributed in part to an overall increase in boating activity during the pandemic. Specific factors played a role in boating fatalities and injuries, like alcohol consumption, failing to wear a life jacket, and boat operator inattentiveness.
Given the rise of boating accidents and reports on their leading causes, there are some boating safety tips that the public should consider before taking a recreational outing on the water. If you or someone you love suffered injuries or a wrongful death as a result of a boating accident in Florida, contact GED Lawyers to discuss the details of your case.
2020 Boating Accidents and Fatalities at a Glance
Following is a list of 2020 stats from the report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard:
- There were 5,265 recreational boating accidents recorded by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2020.
- Of the recreational boating accidents recorded in 2020, there were 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries associated as a result.
- Recreational boating accidents led to approximately $62.5 million dollars of damage to property in 2020.
- In fatal boating accidents where the cause of death was known, 75% of victims drowned, and in the cases where life jacket usage was known, 86% were not wearing a life jacket.
- Alcohol is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, which accounted for 18% of recreational boating deaths in 2020.
- 77% of recreational boating deaths recorded in 2020 happened on boats where the captain or operator didn’t receive boating safety instruction.
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Increase From 2019 Statistics
The 2020 Recreational Boating Statistics report revealed 767 boating fatalities across the country. This figure represents a 25.1% increase from the fatalities recorded in 2019. Nationwide boating accidents are also up. In 2019, the total number of recorded boating accidents sat at 4,168—that number jumped to 5,265 in 2020, a 26.3% increase. As you may expect, the number of boating-related injuries also rose (by 24.7%) as a result.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s recreational boating report also considers possible explanations for the dramatic spike in boating accidents and fatalities. It found evidence of an increase in boating activities overall during the pandemic. For example, 2020 saw an increase in boat sales, boat insurance policies, boat insurance claims, and requests for boat towing assistance.
Given the dramatic rise in recreational boating accident statistics, boat operators and passengers should take steps to ensure their next outing runs smoothly. The following boating safety tips aim to mitigate the number of recreational boating accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Wear a Life Jacket
The 2020 recreational boating report listed drowning as a leading cause of death in boating accidents, and a significant number of those deaths involved failing to wear a life jacket. In the event a boat accident occurs, a life jacket could mean the difference between a passenger living or dying. The next time you hit the water, be sure to wear your life jacket and encourage other passengers to wear one as well.
The U.S. Coast Guard report also listed alcohol consumption as a significant factor in boat accident fatalities. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to get familiar with your local laws on alcohol consumption while on the water. At the same time, consider the ways you can drink more responsibly. Examples of responsible drinking may include:
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you bring on your outing
- Pacing your alcohol consumption over a reasonable amount of time
- Drinking plenty of water over the duration of your outing in order to stay hydrated
- Eating periodically to ensure your body doesn’t absorb alcohol too quickly
- Discouraging dangerous or risky actions in yourself or others while drinking
Take a Boating Safety Course
The 2020 boating report also identified a lack of boating safety instruction as a significant factor in recreational boating accidents. While boat operators hold more responsibility to maintain a safe environment for passengers, it’s a smart idea for both operators and passengers to become familiar with standard boating safety protocols. The U.S. Coast Guard offers a number of boating safety courses and certifications that boaters would benefit from taking before their next outing.
Be an Attentive Boat Operator or Passenger
The U.S. Coast Guard’s report on recreational boating statistics also notes the top five primary contributing factors that tend to cause boat accidents. These consist of boat operator inattention, inexperience, excessive speed, improper lookout, and machinery failure. While a boating safety course may provide the necessary information needed to ensure a safe boating experience, putting this information to work in a practical setting is necessary as well.
Boat operators and passengers should be diligent in their preparations for the outing, like checking the boat for machinery failure or damage before hitting the water. They should also keep an attentive eye out for the duration of the outing to check for potential hazards on the water, to check their speed, and to watch out for other boats or vessels. Ensuring the operator is experienced, or that an experienced operator is present and attentive, is also a good idea.
Were You Injured in a Boat Accident? Contact GED Lawyers to Discuss Your Case
Boating accidents are on the rise. Since Florida enjoys a warm temperature year-round, this means boating excursions may be at an all-time high within the state. If you or a loved one suffered injuries or a fatality after a boating accident in Florida, an experienced attorney can help you determine whether pursuing a personal injury or wrongful death claim is right for you.
When you need an attorney because you’re a victim in a boating accident and require proper compensation or you’re the family of someone who was a fatal victim, call the personal injury attorney at GED Lawyers.